By Hans Olson
In sad news, the province of Quebec lost one of its greats this week when Jean-Claude Leclair died unexpectedly at the age of 57 on Monday. Throughout the 1970s, Leclair was a fixture on the Quebec boxing scene. He fought the famed trio of Eddie Melo, Donato Paduano, and Fernand Marcotte (twice) amongst many others over the course of his 8-year career, a career that ended with a record of 37-9-1.
“He was actually one of the first boxers I met, or got to watch when I first started getting into boxing” said trainer and boxing analyst Russ Anber to Boxing Insider on Thursday.
“I saw some of his fights, especially toward what would have been I guess the end of his career…you know, the Melo fight, the Gary Summerhays fight. I saw him in training for the Melo fight…you know for a young guy getting started in the game like myself, Jean-Claude was a star. He fought some good guys, he fought some real good guys. Jean-Claude Leclair was never involved in a bad fight.
“He had a great left hook, he had a wonderful style, he was crowd pleasing…he didn’t have the best chin in the world, but his style of boxing and his skills were as good as anybody that’s ever boxed in this province. He was that good,” Anber said.
“Sadly, really, the Melo fight was the fight which catapulted Melo to superstardom. Sadly at the expense of JC Leclair…but that was certainly a memorable fight, and a fight that like I said, made Melo.”
A working man in his post-fight life—he was a boilermaker by trade—Jean Claude might not be a familiar face to most current boxing fans, but he was an integral part in building boxing’s modern day popularity in the region. Much like departed memories of Montreal’s old Forum and the Paul-Sauvé Arena, sites that Leclair fought at frequently, Leclair leaves behind a legacy that certainly won’t be forgotten—but a legacy that more should revisit, acknowledge, and honor.
How will Jean-Claude be remembered?
“The thing that comes to my mind is, if you talk about his boxing career…it’s how he was always involved in such exciting fights,” said Anber. “This guy had so much heart, had so much guts…he just kept fighting no matter. He was a crowd pleasing, exciting fighter…and he was a heralded prospect when he was a kid, like, he was picked as a kid who was going to go places…that’s how good he was. He was a real hot prospect when he first turned professional.”
But he was more than just a fighter.
“The thing that I’ll remember the most about him was his smile and his happiness and his sincerity and joy of life and joy of the sport of that he loved,” ended Anber.
“He was always happy, always ready to tell a joke, always ready to have a laugh,” ended Anber. “You never got a bad vibe off of him no matter what. Whenever you were around him, he was so pleasant. That’s going to be my memory of Jean-Claude Leclair.”
Rest in peace Jean-Claude.
Dierry Jean Returns May 19
“We’re looking forward to very high quality fights,” said Camille Estephan to Boxing Insider Thursday. Camille’s Eye of the Tiger Management will promote a May 19 gala in Pointe-Claire, Quebec on May the 19th. Headlining the card will be fast rising Haitian-Canadian Dierry Jean, who faces Mexico’s Cosme Rivera.
“Dierry Jean, as you know is a good talent, and he was ready to make a step up,” continued Estephan. “I want people to take notice of Dierry Jean, because he truly is the best kept secret in boxing right now in Canada, if not North America.”
Jean, who destroyed Englishman Ryan Barrett in three rounds back in February, fights Rivera for the NABF’s vacant jr. welterweight title.
In the evening’s co-feature, Laval’s Nicholson Poulard (older brother of Jean Pascal) takes on the undefeated Lionell Thompson of Buffalo, NY.
“Lionell was a five time Golden Gloves champion out of New York, 12-0…I believe his team wants to know where he’s at, and this is for the NABA title as well so this is an opportunity for us,” noted Estephan.
“Nicholson is more ready than ever. He’s had a fantastic camp so far and we have a couple weeks to go!”
There’s been quite a bit of buzz over Chris Plaitis, younger brother of Manolis, who will make his professional debut in the night’s opening bout against Csaba Toth.
“Chris is just a pure talent,” says Estephan. “A lot of people say he looks a lot like [Paul] Spadafora in his best days. So he has big shoes to fill, and we hope that he can stay on the right track and fulfill his potential.
Rounding out the card will Ghislain Maduma vs. Carlos Parra; Baha Laham vs. Arpad Vass; Ahmad Cheikho vs. Laszlo Komjathi; and Ibrahim Kamal vs. Aboubeker Bechelaghem.